There is a growing epidemic in this country of men becoming less men-like and more female-like. Testosterone levels are at an all-time low for all age groups. This leads to anxiety/depression, low sex drive, fatigue, weight gain/obesity, and low muscle tone. I have seen guys in their 20’s who have testosterone levels that are comparable to a male in their 90’s. Some people call this epidemic “The Disappearing Male” and show statistics on how the male labor workforce has diminished by over 50% since World War II. We need to be asking ourselves two questions: what is the cause? And can it be reversed?
People are quick to jump on the genetic bandwagon as the main cause but they would be wrong. The real reason is the environment we have created. The foods we eat, the water we drink, the stress we are under, and the lack of movement all play a role.
Things like pesticides, plastics, and personal hygiene products act like estrogen in our body, throwing the balance off in our testosterone levels. Too much estrogen means too little testosterone. A good place to start would be to eat organic foods, stop eating refined carbohydrates (fake foods), and increase your good proteins. Next, get rid of plastic water bottles (steel or glass is much better), and use more natural products for personal hygiene (I like the Healthy Living App from EWG.org to see which to buy).
Next, we need to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Your testosterone levels are highest at night and after a strength training workout. Too much cardio work will actually lower your testosterone levels – think about the sprinter vs the marathon runner and the amount of muscle tone they each have. Decreasing stress is essential as we are the most stressed-out population. This level of stress causes us to make a hormone called Cortisol instead of Testosterone – leading to anxiety, depression, and weight gain.
Lastly, we need to be lifting more things and moving them to different places. You must strive to build muscle mass and strength your whole life. There are studies showing that the amount of muscle mass a person has directly affects the length and quality of life they will have. I tell my patients that muscle is king.
One of the quick-fix things that people will do is get a prescription for testosterone – this is very dangerous and does nothing to address the causes above. If you take a prescription of testosterone, your body can still convert it into estrogen through an enzyme called Aromatase. When this enzyme is overactive it will eventually lead to prostate cancer in males. You are putting fuel to the fire when you take testosterone. Do the above things and you can raise your testosterone levels naturally and safely. I have supplemented patients with DHEA, zinc, and some natural aromatase inhibitors to help speed the process along. I myself take these on a daily basis because of the environment we live in and it would be a good idea to incorporate this into your daily health routine.
If you want to live a long and healthy life you need to have adequate testosterone levels throughout life. If you start seeing the belly creep out and the man boobs show up, you know you are headed for all the symptoms mentioned above. This could start a long list of medications that will not help you get to the cause. Stay healthy with the things we listed out and you will start to feel better.
-Dr. Brian Opp